I am currently looking at setting up a blog for the area I specialise in. I am aware of wordpress.org but have been a bit daunted by the number of webhosts out there offering this and that. One particular issue is that I use macs and I was wondering whether bluehost is compatible with the mac, and whether there are any other extra steps I have to take when using a mac over windows. Would it be as simple as registering with a webhost then clicking one-step installation on a mac? 

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A domain name is the bit of the URL (the long address in your browser’s search bar) that identifies a web page — in this case your website. You can register them separately at sites like GoDaddy and Namecheap, but website builders offer to do it for you when you sign up with them. Most provide it for free (at least initially), while a handful charge a few extra bucks.

Great reviews, Robert. It’s unique that you bought accounts for all the builders, and showed us your sample sites. Very informative. I’m working on articles for beginners to know what they’re getting into on the web, having built websites for clients since 1998, and found what most confused and overwhelmed beginners. I’ll be linking to this set of reviews in my summary of web builders, if you don’t mind.

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The templates are high quality, but nobody wants to have a website which looks like another. While that might be hard to avoid with the number of websites on the internet (tens of billions), giving it your best will surely pay off. A quality theme is surely a great start for a website, but the extensive admin panel gives you a lot of creative freedom to express yourself in your website, whether it is a personal blog or an online store.


You can sell products and services on your website if you have the Online Store plan. You’ll have an online store that will allow you to add products and services, set up different types of payment methods, and even specific types of shipping. Your store will be integrated into your website as a page. You can add featured products for your visitors to scroll through, make quick purchases using PayPal and Apple Pay and promote your store/products through coupons. You can also use the same type of email marketing that is included in the Business Plus plan to send email communications to your subscribers and customers about sales in your store, coupon offers and events. Establishing a strong online commerce can boost your current sales, especially if you have a brick-and-mortar store.

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A blog should be about something you love, but it should also be an interest shared by other users as well. You can find out what categories people are interested in by using a keyword research tool and from there you can create customized content that your readers will find fresh and relevant. There is a world of information out there just waiting to be discussed. Why shouldn’t you be the one leading the discussion?

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Themes set the tone of your site. They can be a direct reflection of the owner: If you are a person of simple tastes you might choose a minimalist template, while larger personalities might prefer something with strong colors. You should always keep in mind, however, that a website should meet the level of professionalism of the content it hosts. You might want to think twice about using Comic Sans on a medical professional site, for example.
Several of the services included here offer free options, too. If you choose that path, however, your site will include branding from the provider, which necessarily makes your site less impressive to savvy surfers—and shoppers. Free offerings vary greatly in the amount of storage and bandwidth they allow, so read the small print to find out how much you get with each provider. Weebly, Wix, and WordPress.com are among the most generous with their free offerings, if that's the way you want to go.

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More-advanced options found in some builders let you process credit card payments and add your own cart and checkout pages. The more-powerful site builders include product promotions, email marketing, and inventory and shipping tools. Some let you sell digital downloads, while others don't; see the table above to find out which do. Only a couple of these builders let you put ads on your site, though most of them allow some degree of custom HTML code insertion.

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I had been with a builder/host who’s focus migrated from yoga studios (closest match I could find at the time) to chiropractors, eye doctors & vets. I changed to a new builder/host that supposedly fully integrated all the aspects of my business mgt. software; only to discover after going live that things like BUY NOW links didn’t work & the ability to embed code provided by the business mgt. software really doesn’t exist.

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The App Store is it's biggest differentiator. The Shopify core covers what 80% of online stores will need and the app store covers the other 20%— that way the core doesn't get bloated with features most stores don't need. Shopify is not the only ecommerce website builder to offer an app stores but they have significantly more apps than any competitor:
These days most people clearly prefer hosted website builders such as Wix, Weebly and Jimdo due to their added simplicity. You can edit your site from different computers, no matter if it’s a Mac or PC. If you absolutely want an installable website builder software, I would recommend you check out Mobirise. The basic version is free, you only pay if you purchase one of their premium designs or extensions.

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The major player in the blog game is WordPress, a content management system (CMS) that powers millions of websites, including The New York Times, Quartz, and Variety. WordPress-powered sites are incredibly easy to set up, customize, and update—ideally on a daily basis. You aren't required to learn fancy-schmancy FTP tricks (though you can certainly use them if you like), and there are ridiculous numbers of free and paid WordPress themes and WordPress plug-ins to give your website a pretty face and vastly expanded functionality. Though WordPress dominates the blogging space, it isn't the only blogging CMS of note, however.

Site123 has everything you need – excellent uptime, decent speed, competent customer support, and really good pricing options. The usability is good enough to start with for novices. More experienced users will find plenty to tinker with as well. The intuitive editor is easy to use and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the quality of their templates.
I manage a running club. On the advice of a pal, we used Drupal to develop the club website. This went well enough when my pal managed the Drupal site, but when he got too busy, the thing became a nightmare. Our club management (a handful of runners) ended up spending an inordinate amount of time and money addressing Drupal updates and hacks and technical stuff that was far removed from doing what we loved and were good with (managing a running club.)
Site123 claims to be “by far” the easiest website builder, and while their tool is certainly not too difficult to use, we’d say that there are even more user-friendly ones. What’s great about their builder is that they have some pretty good looking themes that are all responsive. Paid plans start at $9.80 per month and include a basic ecommerce store as well as an email marketing tool. Be prepared to receive multiple daily emails after signing up. Free websites show a little banner stripe at the bottom of the page.

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You can choose from their numerous, and admittedly, beautiful themes. They are all tablet and smartphone-compatible and feature different types of photo galleries. While there are a lot of good things, there are also flaws. With regards to SEO, Squarespace doesn’t let you fully customize the titles for blog and product pages. This can be a show-stopper in competitive industries.
Robert, while a very good review, the problem with yours and other reviews of design sites is they don’t account for growing businesses. What I mean is that they are fine if you are one- or two-person shop, but paying $5/month extra for every email quickly becomes expensive. if you grow to 10 employees and now are paying $50/month plus the cost of the website and domain hosting. Most of these sites provide either no email or very few emails (like one) as part of the plans. This is silly expense because you can get unlimited email addresses for virtually no added cost through any reputable domain hosting site, some of which also off free design sites. So, for those same 10 employees you can pay $3/month all-in with hosting including or $50/month just for the emails and more for domain and site hosting . Perhaps it would be helpful to author an article on this issue and suggest for people who want more than 1-2 email addresses to consider hosting elsewhere and, if they still want to use one of these content management design sites, point to the domain.

Most of the time, the differentiating factor in a website builder—what makes it better or at least different than the rest of its competitors—comes down to one thing: the features. Maybe it’s blogging options, perhaps it’s a cool form builder or a useful membership system. It could be all of them—and believe us, this can happen! As numerous as the features may be, we go through all of the available website builder’s features to show you all the possibilities and tools offered for your website!


As far as actually doing the nuts and bolts building and design of your site, you also have plenty of options. You can hire someone to design and code a website, or you can try your own hand. You can use an online service to create web pages, or build it offline using a desktop software tool. Or, if you're a coding dynamo, use a plain text editor to create a site from scratch. How you mix and match these decisions depends on your skills, time, budget, and gumption.

Great article, comments and discussion thread...thanks to everyone. My question is which of the site builders would be best for constructing a service business (versus selling and shipping a product) where different service event activity dates/times must be scheduled, payments processed and confirmations and follow-up details sent after purchase? Appreciate your insight. Thx!


Hi Edith, thank you for commenting and updating us with your story. Website creation might sound difficult to some people, but come to think of it, it is really easy as pie. I know kids and elderly alike that have learned to use a website building software so quickly that it is just amazing. Producing multiple sites is than easy, even taking it a step further and starting services to build stores and web sites for others! Thank you for sharing Edith, Good Luck with all!
Then there are a few providers who offer only dated or unattractive layouts on their free plans, and keep the good designs for their paid plans. Also, free web page builders will restrict the number of pages you can build and keep their most advanced features for paying customers. Webstarts, for example, even blocks your visitors from seeing a mobile-optimized view when accessing the site via a smartphone.
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